Lack of adequate government high schools have triggered many problems, besides hindering education services in Chattogram.
At present there are only nine government high schools for 70 lakh people of the port city. The most populated area has a pitiable number of government schools.
Though the concerned authority said that government has taken an initiative to construct two more government schools in Chattogram, city experts suggested private schools, which are playing crucial role have set a record in providing quality education, can either be nationalised or further care and facilities should be given to those.
According to Chattogram District Education Office there are nine government schools and 139 private schools in Chattogram.
The nine government schools are — Collegiate School Chattogram, Government Muslim High School, Nasirabad Government Boys’ High School, Dr Khastagir Girls’ High School, Chittagong Government Girls’ High School, Chittagong Government High School, Bakalia Government High School, City Government Girls’ high School, Haji Mohammad Government High School.
Sources said that each year nearly 48, 339 students apply against 3, 908 seats for taking admission in different classes of these nine government schools.
Experts, educationist, guardians said that after 1972 no government high school had been set up in Chattogram. Among the nine government schools, four are situated under Kotowali Thana and three are situated under Panchlaish Thana. The existing schools do not serve the purpose of the citizens of all areas.
The most crowded areas like Muradpur, Oxygen, Bohoddarhat, City Gate, Salt Gola, Agrabad, Patenga lack government schools and as a result students from these areas either study in government schools situated far from their locality or they go for private schools.
Ultimately, it triggers problems like waste of students’ time while travelling between schools and homes and while stuck in traffic congestion, waste of parents’ money on travelling, etc. In addition to all this, guardians are constantly plagued by insecurity. All these ultimately hamper education.
Among the nine government schools four are for girls. Of the four girls’ schools — Dr Khastagir Govt Girls’ High School is situated at Jamal Khan area, Chittagong Government Girls’ High School at Nasirabad, Bakalia Government Girls’ High School at Bakalia and City Government Girls’ high School at Nalapara.
Eminent citizen Professor Sikander Khan said that education was a major driving force behind development in any modern society.
‘Quality education equips young people with knowledge and necessary skills and helps them develop positive values, ideas and morals so that they are ready to take the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood. It also plays a vital role in promoting the intellectual, social, economic, cultural, religious, spiritual and political development,’ he continued.
‘As per our constitution, every child is supposed to receive free education up to the secondary level. But in reality, it is not so, especially when it comes to children from poorer households in rural areas,’ he said.
‘We have done well to ensure people have access to education. But we have not yet managed to provide quality education for all segments of the population. Providing quality education is without a doubt the biggest challenge,’ he argued.
There are weaknesses that are common to many of our educational institutions. First is the quality of teachers. Thousands of teachers are recruited every year and sent straight to classrooms without any training. Second is governance in institutions. School Managing Committees are increasingly being taken over by the business class and by political interests. This is actually one of the reasons why many teachers are recruited to serve vested interest groups. Even after becoming a decision-maker of educational institutions, very few among the political class are ever interested in improving the quality of education. Except for some, most of them are often there for material benefits.
Rima Begum a resident of AK Khan Gate area said there were no government schools in Halishahar, Oxygen, and Pahartoli areas. So, concerned authority needed to act quickly as the population was growing day by day.
She said that we must create a level playing field where every student will get equal opportunity and proper attention. Discrimination in every stage of education must be removed or else mental separation will be established from the very beginning of their educational life, which can be very dangerous for a nation, she added.
Though the passing out rate has been increased slightly compared to the year 2017, the Grade Point Average 5 achievers have decreased sharply in the Junior School Certificate examination in Chattogram.
In 2018 the passing out rate in Chattogram was 81.52 per cent while it was 81.17 per cent in 2017, only 0.35 per cent increased compare to the last year. However, the GPA-5 achievers have decreased over 50 per cent in 2018. In 2017 the GPA 5 achievers in Chattogram board was 10,315 it came down to 5,231 in 2018.
Some said that students got poor marks in English and ICT as most of the schools lack trained teachers of English and ICT.
Secondary education is managed and administered by the Ministry of Education which is concerned with policy formulation, planning, monitoring, evaluation, and execution of plans and programmes.
The minstry works in association with the attached directorate and boards. The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, attached to ministry, is responsible for administration, management and control of post-primary, secondary and higher education (including madrasa and other special types of education). The District Education Office is responsible for the academic supervision and regular inspection of secondary schools and madrassahs, as well as the particular inspection of newly established schools.
Guardian of Silver Bells Kindergarten and Girls’ High School, Md Abul Bashar urged the government to set up 10 more government schools in the port city.
He said that if possible they could set up a school at 1 or 1.5 acres of land, modernise the existing government schools by expanding those.
Bashar also suggested to build residential schools and technical schools for the students of Chattogram.
Distance or location of a government school was not the sole problem but distribution of services as per gender was also an important factor said educationist Dr Anwara Alam.
She said that the poor number of government schools failed to accommodate the huge number of students in need of education as a result a huge number private schools had been operating in Chattogram.
While some of the private schools have been contributing a lot and performance wise had already set a brilliant track record, there are some that have failed to follow any standard.
In order to ensure quality education for all, a holistic and balanced development of the education sector is also required, she added.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Education and Md Abu Hasan Siddique said that already the government selected two sites to set up two new schools in Chattogram.
Land crisis in the main city is the main obstacle. The proposed new schools are going to be constructed at Patenga near Bay Terminal and another at Halishahar.
Allocation is not a problem, the main hindrance was land crisis, he said, and hastened to add that they wanted to set up new buildings of Hazi Mohammad Mohsin School adjacent to the area of Hazi Mohammad Mohsin College, but the college authority and school authority differed.
‘That’s why the education engineering department is planning to expand the existing schools vertically.
During site selection they prefer not to select any place in the central city. Rather they preferred sites in the expanded city,’ said Hasan Siddique.
It would cover whole Chattogram and such a decision would not only be viable for the residents of that area but it would also lessen traffic congestion, he suggested.
The number of government school does not fulfil the demand of the citizens of Chattogram so there is demand for a private school.
‘A few of them maintain education standard but most of them are reluctant to abide by the rules,’ he argued.
Since every year in January, during yearly admission session, some private schools charge extra fees from guardians, Hasan Siddique suggested that Chattogram district administration strictly monitored this so that private schools were not allowed to charge extra fees.
As per allegation the authority conducts drive but reality is much more complex — in the hectic scramble for school admission guardians usually do not file complaints.
Though the ministry directive says that ‘every applicant for admission will be subject to a regular test’ school authorities of private schools have been setting bad precedents, which not only affect the admission norms but also upset the academic environment.
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